• Dillon LM, Bean JR, Yang W, Shee K, Symonds LK, Balko JM, McDonald WH, Liu S, Gonzalez-Angulo AM, Mills GB, Arteaga CL, Miller TW. P-REX1 creates a positive feedback loop to activate growth factor receptor, PI3K/AKT and MEK/ERK signaling in breast cancer. Oncogene. 2014 Oct 6. PMID: 25284585 [PubMed].


Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) promotes cancer cell survival, migration, growth and proliferation by generating phosphatidylinositol 3,4,5-trisphosphate (PIP3) in the inner leaflet of the plasma membrane. PIP3 recruits pleckstrin homology domain-containing proteins to the membrane to activate oncogenic signaling cascades. Anticancer therapeutics targeting the PI3K/AKT/mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) pathway are in clinical development. In a mass spectrometric screen to identify PIP3-regulated proteins in breast cancer cells, levels of the Rac activator PIP3-dependent Rac exchange factor-1 (P-REX1) increased in response to PI3K inhibition, and decreased upon loss of the PI3K antagonist phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN). P-REX1 mRNA and protein levels were positively correlated with ER expression, and inversely correlated with PI3K pathway activation in breast tumors as assessed by gene expression and phosphoproteomic analyses. P-REX1 increased activation of Rac1, PI3K/AKT and MEK/ERK signaling in a PTEN-independent manner, and promoted cell and tumor viability. Loss of P-REX1 or inhibition of Rac suppressed PI3K/AKT and MEK/ERK, and decreased viability. P-REX1 also promoted insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor activation, suggesting that P-REX1 provides positive feedback to activators upstream of PI3K. In support of a model where PIP3-driven P-REX1 promotes both PI3K/AKT and MEK/ERK signaling, high levels of P-REX1 mRNA (but not phospho-AKT or a transcriptomic signature of PI3K activation) were predictive of sensitivity to PI3K inhibitors among breast cancer cell lines. P-REX1 expression was highest in estrogen receptor-positive breast tumors compared with many other cancer subtypes, suggesting that neutralizing the P-REX1/Rac axis may provide a novel therapeutic approach to selectively abrogate oncogenic signaling in breast cancer cells.Oncogene advance online publication, 6 October 2014; doi:10.1038/onc.2014.328.